How to Tile – Top tiling tips for walls and floors

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Learn the basics of how to tile walls and floors here on TilersForums.co.uk, the UK’s largest tile advice website, for free.

Every day our one and only job is to help people to install wall tiles or floor tiles in their kitchens, bathrooms, conservatories and even living spaces and bedrooms.

We learn how to tile to all kinds of surfaces these days, and with all types of tiles. And getting the right products and using them correctly is paramount if you don’t want your tiles to fall off the wall, or sound crunchy and loose when you walk on them.

 

Top 4 Tips for Tiling Floors

Most tiling tips relate to where to start tiling, or which tile to place first. But the following tips will show you that it’s also about the planning and preparation stages too.

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Floor Tiling Tips
  • Flat not level: You can’t always make floors level, you can run into all sorts of problems trying to do that. So if your floor it a hallway and is running up or down and you raised it at one of the ends to be level, you could end up with small steps at doorways where there wasn’t any before. So put the level away and get the straight edge out. You need to know how to tile the floor flat, not level. There will be some instances where a square room like a conservatory can be perfectly levelled off, even if it means raising an area 20 or so mm, and it doesn’t cause an issue anywhere. Usually due to the large door strips and things like. Providing it doesn’t make the brickwork then look, go for it.
  • Correct adhesive and grout: If you’re tiling with Victorian floor tiles and will  be taking some time in setting the tiles, you perhaps want a slow setting adhesive. If you’re tiling with 300mm square tiles and the floor is flat and you can put a lot down in a day, you perhaps want a fast setting adhesive. Then there are the different tile adhesive classifications to consider.
  • Is the substrate correct? There are lots of instances these days where MDF or HDF is used in first floor structures and often they’re not thick enough or suitable for the area (a wetroom would need waterproofing for example). This area is quite a minefield so it’s perhaps best to ask in the tile forum and share some pictures of your setup.
  • Dry-laying tiles: If you’ve never tiled before and don’t know how to make a gauge-staff or gauge-rod (like a plasterers yard stick) then it might be wise to dry lay the tiles down first to find the best setting out pattern. You want the largest amount of cuts in the largest amount if areas. So no thin cuts near your door or around the perimeter.

Various Tiling Tips

Choosing grout

There are many variables to take into account when you choose grout. Here are a few of them:

  • Substrate stiffness – The stiffer the substrate is, the less important the flexibility of the grout becomes. On substrates made from board materials, the grout should be flexible.
  • Tile density – Make sure to pick a grout suitable for the density of the tiles you’re using. Grout meant for regular soft ceramics might not stick to porcelain, glass, or other really dense materials.
  • Tile sensitivity – Natural stone tiles tend to be sensitive to water disoloration. Use a grout which binds water chemically, rapidly, to prevent that. Same goes for the adhesive. You might even need to preseal the tiles before grouting. Do not do that on unfilled natural stone tiles, as the sealant will prevent the grout from getting a proper grip. Opinions differ on this though.
  • Exposure – Make sure to choose a grout suitable for the mechanical and chemical wear the surface is going to be exposed to. In certain situations, you might need epoxy grout.
  • Adhesive color – If you use a light colored grout, it is preferable to choose a light colored adhesive as well, to prevent discolouration and minimize visibility of any excess grout which wasn’t noticable before grouting.

You generally don’t want to use white grout where there’s risk for staining, ie in showers, on floors, and on kitchen splashbacks directly behind the cooking unit.
If you do, you risk getting a very noticable yellowish discoloration.

If the tiling job isn’t spot on, choosing a grout which is close to the tiles in color makes any flaws much harder to see.

Grouting basics

Only grout and clean one surface at a time, and if it is large, you may want to divide it into sections. Doing this ensures the grout doesn’t dry up too much. Bear in mind that you don’t want the grout to be too fresh/wet either. If it is too wet, the additional water on the sponge will weaken the grout. You have to find a compromise between ease of cleaning, and the amount of time you wait before cleaning, up to a certain point. Wait to long after application and the job will be botched. Wait to little, and the grout will crumble after a few months.

Do consider, that though the manufacturers usually recommend you leave the grout to set for ten to fifteen minutes, it really depends on the nature of the tiles. If they’re very porous, they absorb alot of the water from the grout very quickly. If they’re very dense and absorb very little moisture, you need to leave it to set for a bit longer, which allows you to grout larger sections at a time. You’ll get a feel for it after a few times.

Mixing

ALWAYS, and I cannot stress this enough, use clean tools. Old adhesive or grout residue will accelerate the curing of the grout, and that’ll compromise the quality of the end result. Any dirt might cause discolouration of the grout as well.

If you don’t measure the amount of water and powder you use, you generally want the grout to be about the consistency of mayonaise. This depends on the type and brand of grout you use. It’s easier to measure if you’ve got a graded scoop and bucket or similar, and it’s also recommended you do.

Know this: mixing by hand is pretty useless unless it’s a really small batch. Those who say you can’t get a proper result using an electrical mixer, probably used a regular high-RPM drill and some cheap paddle, instead of a proper low-RPM mortar mixer and a proper grout paddle.

In fact, you’re more likely to get a bad result when you mix by hand, than you are when using a proper mixer. The grout is supposed to be completely homogenous, and there can’t be any lumps. By using a proper grout paddle and a low-RPM mortar mixer, you’ll avoid mixing air into it.

Before you start grouting, let the grout “rest” for about two minutes in the bucket, and then mix it once more. This produces a perfect consistency if you’ve done everything else right.

Grouting

Pick some grout up with a bucket trowel or similar, and put it onto your grout float.

If you’re grouting a wall, always begin from the top. This is because you want to start from the top when washing too, or you’ll have to go over the entire thing again just to clean away drippage. Also, where you started grouting, will have had the longest time to set when you start washing, so it’s only logical to start there.

Put the grout onto the wall, begining high, with a vertical motion. Don’t press hard.

Start going over the grout with firm 45 degree motions. This works the grout into the grout lines, and avoids “digging” grout out.

You want there to be as little grout as possible left on the tiles themselves when you start washing off.

If you’re grouting a floor, put the grout directly onto it from the bucket or the trowel. “Push” it infront of the grout float using an “S”-like motion.

I tend to begin in the corners, both on walls and floors. Make sure to not grout the corner grout lines if you intend to silicone them.

Washboy basics

Fill the washboy with cold, clean water, so that it covers the grating by around 2-3 cm.

Wet/clean the sponge. If the float is dirty, you’ll remove the “muck” by pressing against the grating.

Remove the excess water. Do this by going over the rollers with the sponge float once, then stopping with one end “flat” against the rollers, and then “squeese” the end dry by tilting the float up to an angle of about 45 degrees. Repeat on the other end, and go over the rollers with the entire float again. If the sponge leaks water when going over the roller the last time, you need to repeat. You want the sponge float to be as clean as possible, and damp, not wet. Too much water can damage the grouting mortar, making it brittle and unevenly coloured.

Washing

Go over the tiles in a circular motion with the sponge float. Your objective in this stage isn’t cleaning, but to even out the grout. The need for this movement depends on the nature of the tiles, how long the grout has had to set, and how well you applied the grout in the first place.

The circular motion also cleans away the worst excess, but leaves enough to work with when cleaning. Clean the sponge as needed, but not too often. This stage can also be done with a polishing float (large scotch brite pad), which allows you to let the grout cure more before the final cleaning.

Fill out any gaps in the grouting as needed. Often, you just need to use a finger.

When the grout is fairly even, you can start removing the excess grout. Do this by pressing the float firmly against the surface, and going slooowly in a horisontal motion. Start from the top. Clean just as you start noting the float leaving as “track”.

Any dirty excess water drips downwards, and by keeping the motion horisontal, you clean the drip up as you go.

If there is a “film” on the tiles, wait a few minutes for the grout to become a little bit dryer to the touch, and go over the surface lightly with the float. Make sure it is just damp with clean water. To much water may weaken the grout; dirty water is counterproductive. After a few hours, you can go over the grouted surfaces with a clean piece of cloth in order to clean away any residue on the tiles. You can also use a polishing float to polish.

Cleaning grout is about finding a good compromise between speed and the quality of the result, which works for you and your way of working. Some techniques require loads of time, but produce perfect results, and vice versa.
As you get more experienced, you’ll need less time to produce a good result.

Please add your tiling tips via the comments to let us know what helped you guys!

We’re always looking to add more tips to help others, so let us know by replying and we’ll seek out the good ones!

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61 Comments

  • A quick guide to regular grouting using a washboy and floats

    Introduction

    An excellent grouting job can save a poor tiling job. A poor grouting job can ruin even the very best of tiling jobs. Here follows a short guide on the why's and how to's of regular grouting.

    Choosing grout

    There are many variables to take into account when you choose grout. Here are a few of them:

    • Substrate stiffness – The stiffer the substrate is, the less important the flexibility of the grout becomes. On substrates made from board materials, the grout should be flexible.
    • Tile density – Make sure to pick a grout suitable for the density of the tiles you're using. Grout meant for regular soft ceramics might not stick to porcelain, glass, or other really dense materials.
    • Tile sensitivity – Natural stone tiles tend to be sensitive to water disoloration. Use a grout which binds water chemically, rapidly, to prevent that. Same goes for the adhesive. You might even need to preseal the tiles before grouting. Do not do that on unfilled natural stone tiles, as the sealant will prevent the grout from getting a proper grip. Opinions differ on this though.
    • Exposure – Make sure to choose a grout suitable for the mechanical and chemical wear the surface is going to be exposed to. In certain situations, you might need epoxy grout.
    • Adhesive color – If you use a light colored grout, it is preferable to choose a light colored adhesive as well, to prevent discolouration and minimize visibility of any excess grout which wasn't noticable before grouting.

    You generally don't want to use white grout where there's risk for staining, ie in showers, on floors, and on kitchen splashbacks directly behind the cooking unit.
    If you do, you risk getting a very noticable yellowish discoloration.

    If the tiling job isn't spot on, choosing a grout which is close to the tiles in color makes any flaws much harder to see.

    Grouting basics

    Only grout and clean one surface at a time, and if it is large, you may want to divide it into sections. Doing this ensures the grout doesn't dry up too much. Bear in mind that you don't want the grout to be too fresh/wet either. If it is too wet, the additional water on the sponge will weaken the grout. You have to find a compromise between ease of cleaning, and the amount of time you wait before cleaning, up to a certain point. Wait to long after application and the job will be botched. Wait to little, and the grout will crumble after a few months.

    Do consider, that though the manufacturers usually recommend you leave the grout to set for ten to fifteen minutes, it really depends on the nature of the tiles. If they're very porous, they absorb alot of the water from the grout very quickly. If they're very dense and absorb very little moisture, you need to leave it to set for a bit longer, which allows you to grout larger sections at a time. You'll get a feel for it after a few times.

    Mixing

    ALWAYS, and I cannot stress this enough, use clean tools. Old adhesive or grout residue will accelerate the curing of the grout, and that'll compromise the quality of the end result. Any dirt might cause discolouration of the grout as well.

    If you don't measure the amount of water and powder you use, you generally want the grout to be about the consistency of mayonaise. This depends on the type and brand of grout you use. It's easier to measure if you've got a graded scoop and bucket or similar, and it's also recommended you do.

    Know this: mixing by hand is pretty useless unless it's a really small batch. Those who say you can't get a proper result using an electrical mixer, probably used a regular high-RPM drill and some cheap paddle, instead of a proper low-RPM mortar mixer and a proper grout paddle.

    In fact, you're more likely to get a bad result when you mix by hand, than you are when using a proper mixer. The grout is supposed to be completely homogenous, and there can't be any lumps. By using a proper grout paddle and a low-RPM mortar mixer, you'll avoid mixing air into it.

    Before you start grouting, let the grout "rest" for about two minutes in the bucket, and then mix it once more. This produces a perfect consistency if you've done everything else right.

    Grouting

    Pick some grout up with a bucket trowel or similar, and put it onto your grout float.

    If you're grouting a wall, always begin from the top. This is because you want to start from the top when washing too, or you'll have to go over the entire thing again just to clean away drippage. Also, where you started grouting, will have had the longest time to set when you start washing, so it's only logical to start there.

    Put the grout onto the wall, begining high, with a vertical motion. Don't press hard.

    Start going over the grout with firm 45 degree motions. This works the grout into the grout lines, and avoids "digging" grout out.

    You want there to be as little grout as possible left on the tiles themselves when you start washing off.

    If you're grouting a floor, put the grout directly onto it from the bucket or the trowel. "Push" it infront of the grout float using an "S"-like motion.

    I tend to begin in the corners, both on walls and floors. Make sure to not grout the corner grout lines if you intend to silicone them.

    Washboy basics

    Fill the washboy with cold, clean water, so that it covers the grating by around 2-3 cm.

    Wet/clean the sponge. If the float is dirty, you'll remove the "muck" by pressing against the grating.

    Remove the excess water. Do this by going over the rollers with the sponge float once, then stopping with one end "flat" against the rollers, and then "squeese" the end dry by tilting the float up to an angle of about 45 degrees. Repeat on the other end, and go over the rollers with the entire float again. If the sponge leaks water when going over the roller the last time, you need to repeat. You want the sponge float to be as clean as possible, and damp, not wet. Too much water can damage the grouting mortar, making it brittle and unevenly coloured.

    Washing

    Go over the tiles in a circular motion with the sponge float. Your objective in this stage isn't cleaning, but to even out the grout. The need for this movement depends on the nature of the tiles, how long the grout has had to set, and how well you applied the grout in the first place.

    The circular motion also cleans away the worst excess, but leaves enough to work with when cleaning. Clean the sponge as needed, but not too often. This stage can also be done with a polishing float (large scotch brite pad), which allows you to let the grout cure more before the final cleaning.

    Fill out any gaps in the grouting as needed. Often, you just need to use a finger.

    When the grout is fairly even, you can start removing the excess grout. Do this by pressing the float firmly against the surface, and going slooowly in a horisontal motion. Start from the top. Clean just as you start noting the float leaving as "track".

    Any dirty excess water drips downwards, and by keeping the motion horisontal, you clean the drip up as you go.

    If there is a "film" on the tiles, wait a few minutes for the grout to become a little bit dryer to the touch, and go over the surface lightly with the float. Make sure it is just damp with clean water. To much water may weaken the grout; dirty water is counterproductive. After a few hours, you can go over the grouted surfaces with a clean piece of cloth in order to clean away any residue on the tiles. You can also use a polishing float to polish.

    Cleaning grout is about finding a good compromise between speed and the quality of the result, which works for you and your way of working. Some techniques require loads of time, but produce perfect results, and vice versa.
    As you get more experienced, you'll need less time to produce a good result.

    Final notes

    I find that my technique is sufficiently fast for the most part, and the result is as close to perfect I can get within a reasonable amount of time.

    When you're done grouting, empty the water somewhere you don't risk causing a blockage. In the bottom of the washboy, there will be a layer of cement. If it's new, it'll be lose, and you can scrape it out, or wash it out with a hose. If it's been there for a day or so, or if you've been doing lots of grouting, then you can "tap" it out, by putting the washboy upside down, and tapping with the handle of a trowel round the edges. Do not tap in the middle, as you might crack the plastic if you tap too hard.

    A handy tip (heh) would be to wear nitril rubber gloves when you grout. Excessive skin contact with cement based materials can cause eczema. You also won't suffer as much if the water is really cold.

    Wear some sort of facemask when you mix grout and adhesive. Breathing in dust from cement based materials, especially polymer reinforced such, can cause (really) severe asthma in the long run if you're unlucky. Hearing protection is a must as well.

  • Diagnosing grout failiure

    Possible reasons for grout failiure:

    • Improperly prepped substrate (ie not stiff enough)
    • Grout which doesn't cope with the conditions in which you've used it

    a. Not enough flexibility, though the need for that should be countered with proper substrate preparation and reinforcment
    b. Grout which doesn't stick well enough to the tiles, ie grout meant for porous tiles, and you've used really dense tiles.
    c. Grout which is meant for thicker grout lines than you've made (for example, using grout meant for 4-12mm lines, when you've made the lines 2mm)
    d. Grout which is meant for thinner grout lines that you've made (for example using grout meant for 0-3mm when you've made the lines 5mm)

    • Faulty batch of grout
    • Too much water when mixing the grout (weakens the grout; can also cause effloresence or uneven colouring)
    • Too little water when mixing the grout (weakens the grout; can also cause uneven colouring)
    • Adding water to the mix after the grout has started setting in the bucket
    • Exceeding the open time of the grout when grouting (ie mixing too much in one go; weakens the grout, can also cause effloresence or uneven colouring)
    • Contaminated water (which makes the grout cure too fast, or unevenly; can also cause discolouration)
    • Too warm envionment while the grout cures (too fast curing)
    • Too dry environment while the grout cures (too fast curing)
    • Too cold environment while the grout cures (too slow curing; can also cause effloresence or uneven colouring)
    • Sunlight exposure while curing (uneven and too fast curing)
    • Grouting too soon after setting the tiles (can result in cracked grout, from adhesive shrinkage or tile movement; can also cause effloresence, discolouring, or uneven colouring)
    • Too much water when washing after after application of grout (weakens the grout; can also cause effloresence or uneven colouring)
    • Washing too soon after application of grout (weakens the grout; can also cause effloresence or uneven colouring)
    • Walking on the floor too soon after grouting (can damage the grout in several ways, including floor movement; can also contaminate the grout)
    • Washing with strong detergents too soon after grouting (can damage and weaken the grout; can also cause effloresence or uneven colouring)
    • Impregnating too soon after grouting (can damage and weaken the grout; can also cause effloresence or uneven colouring)

    This is not a complete list by any means.

  • A guide to using silicone

    General information and guidelines

    The point of siliconing is threefold:

    • To mask poor cutting in corners.
    • To waterproof holes made after tanking.
    • To neutralize movements in the surrounding structure.

    If you use regular grout in corners where there might be structural movement, and then use silicone over it, you defeat the purpose of the silicone, and you risk cracking. Over here, we refer to silicone as "movement grouting", for just that reason. Use silicone where it is due, and regular grout where it is due.

    Do use silicone:

    • Where the substrate is concrete which is less than one year old (it shrinks).
    • Where the substrate is board material, eg drywall, mounted on a wooden or metallic frame (moves with temperature and humidity).
    • In new buildings, regardless of substrate, as there will be movement.
    • Where one substrate material meets another (eg concrete floor meets plasterboard).
    • Where sanitary wares, counter tops, etc, connects with tiled surfaces

    You don't need to use silicone for structural reasons:

    • Where all surfaces are made from concrete which is more than one year old. Prefereably, they should be more than two years old.

    There are a few other circumstances where it might, or might not be appropriate, but I can't be arsed. Tell you this though: It's safer to use silicone, than to not use it. If you think it's needed, from structural reasons or otherwise, then by all means use it. Bear in mind that silicone joints and harder to keep clean than regular grout joints, and that there are many different types of silicone. Chose one suitable for you intended application.

    If you want to do movement joints outdoors, you might want to use polymer reinforced silicone.

    As for drying: Drying times are almost always listed on the tube.

    Guide to siliconing

    Grout the surrounding tiles, but make sure there is no grout or otherwise where you intend to use silicone.

    If you feel unsure about your technique, and feel you might make a mess, use masking tape of some sort.

    Apply the silicone in nice even strings. There are two general types of silicone tools you use for smoothing: One which removes excess, and one which doesn't.

    If you tool removes excess, it's good if the string is a little thicker than you want the finished result to be. If your tool doesn't (your index finger is in this category), you'll need to be careful to not apply too much, especially if you aren't using masking tape.

    Use some sort of liquid which stops the silicone from sticking. Some silicone manufacturers sell special anti-sticking liquids, which you apply to the tool, and to the silicone string. Most however, use regular detergent (soap) mixed with water. Make sure it's colourant free first though. Strong detergent will ruin the silicone.

    Apply the anti-sticking liquid using a water spray, to your tool, and the surrounding tiles, as well as the silicone. If you use masking tape, you only need to spray the tool.

    Smooth the silicone with the tool, using a long, even motion.

    If the tool removes excess, dump the waste in a waste bag before it starts making a mess.

    If needed, spray the tool and the silicone again. When the silicone has a suitable thickness, you might want to go over it using your finger, in one light, long motion. If you've used masking tape, remove it when you're finished.

  • Self-Leveling Compound

    Using SLC is not as straight forward as it seems. You have to be absolutley sure that you pick a suitable product, and there are many many variables to take into account. Here follows a few pointers.

    • Indoors or outdoors? – Outdoors products need to be frost resistant
    • Domestic or commercial? – You need to pick a product with a suitable rate of strength development and final tensile and compressive strength
    • Wet or dry? – Most SLC's are water resistant (not waterproof), but double check to be sure.
    • Rising damp? – Pick an SLC suitable for conditions with rising damp. Most outdoors products can cope with that. If the surface is to be tanked, pick a tanking rpduct suitable for rising damp as well.
    • Substrate composition? – Make sure to pick a product which is meant for the specific type of substrate you're going to level. An SLC meant for concrete substrates might not work very well on wooden substrates. For substrates made from different substrates, you may need to come up with a custom solution.
    • Substrate soundness? – Will the substrate need to be reinforced or repaired before the application of SLC?
    • Thickness of leveling layer? – Pick a product suitable for the thickness you need to pour. Note that most SLC's have a minimum thickness as well as a maxiumum thickness.
    • Gradient? – If you need to pour a slope/gradient, the SLC needs to be suitable, ie slightly thicker.
    • Size of the area to be leveled? – Will I need to install movement joints?
    • Aggregate and/or rebar netting? – Some products require reinforcement with rebar netting on certain substrates; some equire aggregate.
    • UFH? – Some SLC's can't be used on UFH.

    • Leveling preparation – How will you need to prepare the specific substrate you're leveling? Clean it? Abrade it? Prime it? Slurry it?

    • Working times – How long open times and curing times does your SLC have? Do not exceed the open times.

    • Curing – Will extra precautions be necessary when the SLC is curing, such as watering it and covering it?


    Methods of application

    The best method of application depends on several factors, including SLC layer thickness, the consistency of the the compound, the area to be leveled, the condition of the original substrate, and more.

    Somewhat simplified:

    • Thin to medium thickness on a relatively smooth substrate, without need for slope or gradient – Notched trowel or spiked roller of appropriate size
    • Any thickness on very uneven or out of level substrate, with or without need for gradient/slope – Plastering trowel or a similar flat edged tool of appropriate size


    Notes

    Always use clean tools and containers. Do not expose newly poured SLC to sunlight. Keep an even temperature which is within the tolerance of your specific SLC.

    Wear some sort of facemask when you mix SLC. Breathing in dust from cement based materials, especially polymer reinforced such, can cause (really) severe asthma in the long run if you're unlucky. And mixing SLC can be a very dusty business. Hearing protection is a must as well.

    Always, and I cannot emphasize this enough, ALWAYS read the product specs thouroghly before use, or you might end up with lots of lost time and money.
    If in doubt, call or mail the manufacturer, or their agent.

    Four easy ways of controlling SLC thickness:

    • Stick your folding ruler into the SLC. The most obvious way, but useless if the initial substrate is uneven.
    • Mark the surrounding walls using a ruler or a tape measure, and a spirit level. Mark a bit higher up than your intended final level with a pen, and work your way around the room with the spirit level, making a line. Use that line as a guide to mark the final level with your measuring tool. Just make sure that you hold it at a steady and straight 90 degree angle. Pour up to the marks.
    • Put down some sort of level guides (nails for example), and make sure there level with you spirit level. If they're too high, just tap them down a bit.
    • Mix exactly the amount you need to get the desired thickness. If a particular SLC requires 1.7Kg powder per mm per m2, and you want to pour a 10mm layer on a surface which is 5m2, do 1.7kg x 10mm X 5m2. The result should be 85Kg. Make sure to mix in the exact amount of water stated in the specs though. Do a search for "materials calculator" on the forums (or simply check my signature), and you'll find a spreadsheet I made which you can use to calculate this.

    There are other ways, but these are straight forward enough.

  • A guide to pricing

    Introduction

    Though it might work just fine on commercial jobs, I don't believe you can use linear pricing per square meter if you want to have a steady income doing domestic jobs. One price per square meter which is just right for, say, bathrooms, is probably completely off when quoting kitchens, or really large terrazos, etc. It is better to base your pricing on day rates, but there are many things to consider.

    It comes down to the following:

    • How long is the job going to take? Smaller jobs take proportionally more time than larger jobs.
    • How difficult will it be? Are there variables which might complicate the job? Will you want extra pay for those variables?
    • How much do you want to make in the end? How much do you need to make in the end?
    • Can you remain competative with the derived pricing?

    I have little knowledge of what reasonable pricing in the UK is, or how your tax system works, so you may need to modify the following a bit to better suit your conditions.

    The basic numbers

    Tally the static expenses relating to your business an average year. These include tool purchases/repairs, trade insurance, tax and maintenance on your vechicle, etc.

    Divide the sum by the number of months you work an average year.

    Add what you need to make in an average month to have a reasonable standard of living, including tax.

    If you plan on taking a vacation lasting, say, a month, make sure to add a months salary divided by the number of months you work an average year.

    Lets say, for demonstrational purposes, that the sum you come up with is £2000.

    Here's a kicker: Not all your work is spent on things you can charge for. Unpaid time includes doing paperwork, meeting customers, etc.
    You need to take this into account.

    Say you spend 80% of you working time on things which you can charge for.
    Divide £2000 by 0,80 (80%). The result is £2500.
    Divide £2500 by the number of days you work an average month (22 for a 5 day week in an average month).
    The result is that you need to make £113 a day if you work five days a week, of which 80% of the time is on things which pay, to earn £2000 in a month.

    You have to put your pricing in relation to this, as well as the going rates on the market. A day-rate of £130 seems to be common when reading on these forums. If this is the case where you live, and the £113/day applies to you, then all is well, and if you manage to consistently get £130 a day, then you'll end up with a £375 profit every month. That's almost 19%.

    If the local day-rate is lower than the £113 you need, you need to either cut your expenses, or increase the amount of time you work on things you can charge for.

    Comparing pricing

    Lets say you got hired to do a 3m2 kitchen splashback. Lets say it takes you one working day to complete it. If you charge 130$ for it, not counting materials, that's a little shy of £44/m2.

    For comparison, lets say you got hired to do a bathroom with a total of 25m2 tiling to be done, and you need to prepare the substrate. Lets say it takes you four days to complete. If you charge £130×4 for it, not including materials, that gives you £520, and a m2 price of about £21.

    Lets compare a linear rate of £20/m2 + materials, as it seems to be a common price in the UK, with the above method of pricing, using the same examples:

    Had you charged £20/m2 + materials for a bathroom (£500), it would've been about right from the economical standpoint we calculated earlier in this post.

    Had you charged £20/m2 + materials (£60) for the kitchen splashback, you'd be losing money from the economical standpoint we calculated earlier in this post.

    See what I meant about linear pricing being a tad off?


    Adding variables

    You can add any number of variables to your pricing; those mentioned above are just basic principles.

    I'm not going to go into all the details, but based on what I estimated using the above method, I've got a basic call out fee per days work, which is a bit lower than what I want to make per day, but still higher than what I need to make.

    On top of that, I've divided my work into categories, for example preparation or replacement of the substrate, tiling, etc. Then I add a charge per square metre, which is based on what type of material will be used, and what size the tiles are. I used standard 15×15 ceramic tiles as a base line for pricing. Larger tiles require more attention to adheive coverage and flushness, smaller tiles takes more time cutting and grouting.

    If the customer wants patterns other than regular grid patterns, I add another fee per square meter, based on how difficult and time consuming the pattern is.

    For special solutions, I charge per instance, square metre, or liner metre, depending on what it is.

    I also add fees on an item basis. For example, for drilling in regular ceramics, I've got a fee which covers the wear on my drills, as well as the time spent measuring and drilling. For drilling in porcelain, the fee per hole is higher, to compensate for the heaver wear on the drill bits.

    My call out fees and square metre fees cover my labour, basic wear and tear on my tools. Item fees cover the specific wear and tear on tools, and additional time spent. You can include material costs into this, but I prefer to keep them separate.

    I've got ALOT of variables listed, which I take into account when pricing. Here are some of them.

    • Total size of wall(s)?
    • Total size of floor(s)?
    • Number of internal corners?
    • Number of external corners?
    • Number of floor drains?
    • Holes to be made in soft ceramics?
    • Holes to be made in hard ceramics?
    • Number of pipes?
    • Size of tiles?
    • Quality of tiles?
    • Width of grout lines?
    • Leveling? Gradient?
    • UFH?
    • Waterproofing?
    • Replace, repair, or reinforce substrate(s)? What type(s)?
    • Removing old tiles? What type of substrate(s) are they on?
    • Will I need to call in other trades?
    • Waste disposal?
    • Renting of special tools?

    Etc…

    You can add any number of variables to your pricing.

    Conclusion

    If you, like me, hate surprices, and like being on top of things instead of just charging straight ahead without any further consideration, it really helps to be thorough in all aspects of the game called "The tiling business", not just the tiling itself.

    Make a list of variables and prices, and copy it up. When you go to quote jobs, just tick in the numbers, and tally up. Takes a little bit of time to prepare, but you won't have to think much when you go to quote, and it won't take long once you get the hang of it.

    Most tilers learn to measure jobs just by eyeing them up. I prefer to be precise.

    Just my (many) five cents on the matter.

  • Epoxy and waterproofing

    There seems to be some confusion on this subject. Tiles (except glass tiles and epoxy based tiles) and cement based adhesives and grout are not waterproof. They're mostly resistant to water, which means they don't deteriorate under water's influence, but they still allow water to pass through. Even dense porcelain allow some moisture through, though it's not much.

    Long version:

    If a floor needs to be waterproof, a waterproof membrane combined with cement based adhesive and grout is normally the best option, as that will allow the floor to dry out.

    If you for some reason need to use epoxy grout, and you need the floor to be waterproof, then epoxy adhesive is the way to go. Epoxies are more or less waterproof per definition, though some aren't entirely vapor proof in the long run.

    When you use cement based adhesives and epoxy grouts, you want the substrate to be able to pass any moisture which get through. If you use waterproof membranes in combination with cement based adhesives and epoxy grout, water/damp might get trapped in the adhesive and any empty spaces under the tiles.
    Though porcelain isn't waterproof per se, the moisture they allow through is less than what cement based adhesive can absorb. Picture putting a damp sponge in a plastic bag with a few pinpricks in. It'll dry, eventually, but it might take ages, and in that time, alot of nasty things can happen; the tiles can be discoloured and there might be mold propagation.

    If you use epoxy all the way, only the tiles themselves will become damp, assuming there are no holes through which water can get in.

    Short version:

    • Floor needs to be waterproof, no particular sanitary (or mechanical/chemical resistance) requirements – Apply a waterproof membrane, and fix and grout the tiles with cement based materials.
    • Floor needs to be waterproof, with particular sanitary (or mechanical/chemical resistance) requirements – Epoxy all the way
    • Floor doesn't need to be waterproof, with particular sanitary (or mechanical/chemical resistance) requirements – No waterproof membrane; Tiles are fixed with cement or epoxy based adhesives, and grouted with epoxy.

    Hope I've cleared up/summarized things in an easily digestible manner now.

  • klouan

    Thankyou sWe for taking the time to write these invaluable guides. As a newbie I am finding them really helpful.

    You're welcome 🙂

    Dave

    Marcus!!!!..You are the man………

    cheeeeeeeeeers………..this will be an invaluable thread for newbies etc etc…….:thumbsup:

    😀 :thumbsup:That's what I hope as well :yes:

  • Well said Marcus!

    On the pricing I would add the variables:

    Accessability to the work, parking, furniture removal, working around pets or children, boxings, trims, electrical sockets, work space, tile gradation, FUEL, floor and furmiture protection, drying times… and so on.

    I always go to view the job and give the price accordingly but there are many tilers that give prices per m2. Most of these tilers will end up doing a quick and rubbish job in order to make some money and/or having disputes with the costumer.

    The costumer needs to learn that they are getting craftmanship although different from each one of us and not an identical item purchased from different shops.

    So, if you are a customer reading this, now you know better.

  • A few pointers on customer relations

    Introduction

    Customers can be really tricky dealing with, as they tend to be human. We all know that humans are not to be trusted. Errr.

    Humor aside, my principles of conduct when dealing with customers, can be summarized as expediency, polite professionalism, and honesty. It works very well with most customers.

    Here follows a few pointers on what to be mindful of when dealing with customers, especially when quoting.

    Quoting

    Always be yourself, but with a professional overtone. If you like a little banter, then by all means engage in it, if it's appropriate. There's no need to get to know the customer during this phase, though that said, you should be courteous and answer questions, etc. Don't be distant, but do keep the customer at half an arms length, so to speak.

    Getting to know customers a little is more appropriate once you're actually doing the job, as it might encourage them to do some free marketing.

    Don't stick around much longer than necessary when quoting. There's no need to stick around one and a half hours when checking out a splashback job, the reason being you're not making any money by talking. You might also be inconveniencing the customer. Half an hour is usually more than plenty, unless it's a big job.

    When quoting, always be specific. If a customer is unwilling to part with his or her £, or if they're just careful, he or she will likely appreciate a detailed quote. They want to know what they're getting, and not getting, for your fee, not just that it's going to cost them 20 odd pounds per square meter plus materials. It's adds safety for you too, as you can refer to the quote if they want extras, and say "anything not on the quote will cost extra", and then you charge a day rate or whatever for it.

    If you're not the cheapest tiler around, tell the customer so, and why. It is likely to win them over if they care about quality. Some (many) value low costs more than quality though. Use your own judgement.

    Final notes

    As you're doing a job, or when you're just completed one, never, ever, ask them if it looks good. That is for them to say. You're a craftsman, a professional, and you should know wether or not it looks good yourself. Asking makes you look like a jolly amateur who's hoping for the best and doesn't know the differance.

    You can however, point out details of particular cleverness and/or technical correctness, but don't overdo it, and do not bragg.

    "Note how I've seamlessly made x intergrate with y" or something like that is enough.

    Warn the customer(s) to wear shoes when they're moving through the work area, so that they don't get stray shards, from nipping or some such, in their feet. Lil' ol' ladies especially, appreciate being "watched out for" a bit, and it increases the tea/biscuit ratio.

    Keep the working area relatively clean. Put protective coverings in transit areas and take special care to protect sensitive surfaces and/or furnishings.

    Tidy up before you leave. Vacum cleaning is top advice. Small commercial hoovers aren't that expensive, and it's greatly appreciated by customers. The ten minutes it takes to hoover, adds disproportionaly to your reputation.

  • Choosing adhesive and grout with standards as a general guide

    Introduction

    First, a warning: This is a fairly technical guide. It is meant for intermediate to advanced tilers, but newbies can benefit from reading this too. If you find this sort of technical mumbo-jumbo boring, and don't want to read it, I have a recommendation for you:

    Always read product specs and follow them. It can, and will, save you money and time. You'll learn alot as well.

    Know this: I do not claim to be an expert on European Standards; I merely relay what I know. I don't have the documents themselves availible; I'm writing from memory. Please point out if I've mixed something up.

    Onwards…

    You may have noticed that most adhesives and grouts usually have a small collection of weird letter and number combinations in their specs. They may look like this:

    BS EN 12004 C2F

    Here's what this particular one means: Classified as Cementious, Improved(2), Fast-setting adhesive, in compliance with the British Standards and European Norms, as specified in document 12004.

    It's not as complicated as it seems, though it might be a bit confusing when you don't know what the letters and numbers mean.

    Standards set a base line, which is the same as minimum performance requirement. A company which whishes to classify their products according to the existing standards, have to send product samples to independant laboratories, where the products will be tested to failiure. The lab will use methods specified in the relevant standards documents. A product may exceed the base line requirements, but for it to be classified, it must atleast meet them. The class and type description does not tell wether or not a product just manages to meet the standards specification, or if it exceedes it; neither does it say anything about the exact properties of a product. It does however state what minimum performance you can expect from the product in question. This is important, because the properties the classifications describe can be associated with certain applications. More on this as I go.

    The low down, according to EN 12002, EN 12004, and EN 13888

    These standards describe the general properties of materials classified according to them. If I remember correctly, EN12004 is the main standard for adhesives, and it describes properties, and specifies minimum performance levels.

    EN12002 describes and specifies additional properties which adhesives and grouts classified according to EN12004 and EN13888 may have, specifically, transverse deformation, ie flexibility.

    EN13888 deals with grouts. I'll go through them one by one.

    EN12004
    The types described in EN12004 are as follows:

    Cx = Cementious, ie cement based bagged adhesives. Use a face mask when mixing, unless you want to risk asthma and/or cancer in the long run.
    Dx = Dispersion, ie ready mixed adhesive, aka tubbed gear.
    Rx = Resin, ie epoxy. Use appropriate methods and protective gear when you use this, unless you're willing risk nerve damage and other nastiness as a result of breathing the fumes.

    The x can be either 1 or 2. Explanation follows below.

    The classes described in in EN12004 are as follows:

    1 = Normal.
    2 = Improved. Better adhesion and flexibility. Usable in most applications, in combinations with appropriate added properties.
    F = Fast, ie rapid setting. Cures fast, and binds all, or almost all, of the water mixed into it chemically. A must when time is of the essence, or when working with most natural stone. Alot of natural stone can be discoloured by water, so you want to minimize the free water it's exposed to.
    T = Tixotropical. That means it's loose when being handled, and fairly stiff when no being handled. That equals anti-slippage, a must for tiling walls, especially if you do not use support, such as spacers.
    E = Extended open time. Useable atleast 20-30 minutes after application to a surface prepared according to manufacturer specs, with a surface and air temperature of 20 degrees celcius. Some are usable for up to an hour. Standard open time is around 10 minutes, depending on temperature and humidity.

    An adhesive described as C2TE, or Type C, Class 2TE is Cementious, Improved (2), and Anti-slippage (T), with an (Extended) open time of no less than 20 minutes.

    EN12002
    Additional properties not described in EN12004 and EN13888 are described here.

    Sx = Deformable (able to absorb a minimum amount of deformation as specified in the numerical suffix)
    1 = Flexible (greater or equal to 2.5mm, but less than 5mm).
    2 = Highly flexible (greater than 5mm)

    While most C2 rated adhesives can handle 6-12 months old concrete, most C2/S1-2 Adhesives can handle anything from 1-3 months old concrete (or older, of course) without cracking.

    The less dimensionally stable a substrate is, the more flexibility is needed. The additives which make adhesives flexible also tend to improve adhesion, so if the substrate and/or the tiles are really dense or non-absorbant, a flexible adhesive or additive might be needed.

    EN13888
    Grouts. The types described in EN13888 are as follows:

    CGx = Cementious Grout.
    RGx = Resin Grout. Epoxy, in other words. Used when there are special mechanical and/chemical resistance requirements, and/ sanitary requirements. Very seldom used in domestic applications.

    The classes described in EN13888 are as follows:

    1 = Normal
    2 = Improved wear resistance and reduced water absorbation.


    Final notes

    As previously stated, the standards specify what minimum performance you can expect from a product. Since manufacturers develop their products themselves, the actual content of the products can vary greatly between brands, though they might have the same classification. Manufacturers design their products in systems, which are guaranteed to work when used together as long as you follow the product specs and guidelines.
    Therefore, try to not mix different brands too much.

    Knowing what the classes and types mean, makes it easier to differentiate between products, and saves you time when picking materials. They do not replace the individual specs and guidelines however, so always read them when you've narrowed down the selection.

    If an adhesive or grout doesn't specify which standard it complies with, I won't use it, because it could be powdered pig for all I know.

    I've probably made alot of spelling misstakes and missed things when I've edited this post; I'll correct them as I find them.

    I hope you've enjoyed reading this, and I believe this is one of my longest posts to date. That says something, ey? :thumbsup:

  • Great Stuff Marcus! :thumbsup:
    I am impressed mate! Although I new a bit about the classifications and BS standards I would always need to consult the technical literature provided by the manufacturer before I know what that particular number would reference to. I am getting too old to remember each classification. That's why I like to stick (no pun intended :lol:) with one brand for as long as possible. It is nice having a comfort zone! 🙂

  • Glad you like my writings :thumbsup: It's become a bit of a hobby, I must admit 🙂

    I started looking into standards and classifications because, when I was an apprentice, my boss tended to buy whatever was availible from whichever store was located closest to the job. He was a sloppy planner, so he always bought too little of something.
    It was a B*TCH to keep up with all the different brands at the same time, so I simply made it easier for myself. Sat down one evening, and then it stuck. Really made it easier for me to know what I was doing.

    Since things are a bit quiet at the moment, I'll continue a little bit on the standards side of things in my next guide. I think I'll write a little something about tile classifications… Stay tuned.

  • sWe

    Glad you like my writings :thumbsup: It's become a bit of a hobby, I must admit 🙂

    I started looking into standards and classifications because, when I was an apprentice, my boss tended to buy whatever was availible from whichever store was located closest to the job. He was a sloppy planner, so he always bought too little of something.
    It was a B*TCH to keep up with all the different brands at the same time, so I simply made it easier for myself. Sat down one evening, and then it stuck. Really made it easier for me to know what I was doing.

    Since things are a bit quiet at the moment, I'll continue a little bit on the standards side of things in my next guide. I think I'll write a little something about tile classifications… Stay tuned.

    Well… it makes sense… but a great lesson is: if in doubt, ASK!

    I am always learning something new; that's why I joined the this GREAT forum (you can buy me a drink later Dave :D).

    I know of few tilers that would be too embarassed to ask for help or advice… not me.
    Like the "variables" on the estimates, the are are plenty more on choosing the right products for the right application. I have bal tech (GREAT guys)number on my mobile phone and if a new challenge comes, I only need to press a button and any stress goes away. 😀

  • SnipSnap

    Well… it makes sense… but a great lesson is: if in doubt, ASK!

    I am always learning something new; that's why I joined the this GREAT forum (you can buy me a drink later Dave :D).

    I know of few tilers that would be too embarassed to ask for help or advice… not me.
    Like the "variables" on the estimates, the are are plenty more on choosing the right products for the right application. I have bal tech (GREAT guys)number on my mobile phone and if a new challenge comes, I only need to press a button and any stress goes away. 😀

    Things would be easier if people dared ask. I didn't really have that opportunity when I did my apprenticeship though. My boss was good at slamming tiles up/down, but not much else, so I had no choice but finding out for myself.

    I do call the manufacturers from time to time 🙂

  • Glad I am not the only one! LOL
    But in doing that I can honestly say tha I have NEVER had any problems with fixing.

    ask…
    ask…
    ask…
    ask…
    ask…
    ask…
    ask…
    ask…
    and then… ASK AGAIN! That's why children learn and grown ups don't! :mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2::mad2:

  • I use bal superflex neil and have no probs mate…you have to let it set up long enough then wash down….i know it can stick to the face of the tiles abit but that is the polymers…..once you wet it up it comes off..agreed elbow grease is needed some times but flexi is needed with certain types of tiles in todays market…..i.e porcelain..glass etc….

  • Dave

    I use bal superflex neil and have no probs mate…you have to let it set up long enough then wash down….i know it can stick to the face of the tiles abit but that is the polymers…..once you wet it up it comes off..agreed elbow grease is needed some times but flexi is needed with certain types of tiles in todays market…..i.e porcelain..glass etc….

    Do you find the same with Microflex Dave? I always seem to have difficulty getting a nice finish with it. Maybe I am washing off too quickly?

  • grumpygrouter

    Do you find the same with Microflex Dave? I always seem to have difficulty getting a nice finish with it. Maybe I am washing off too quickly?

    No problems here at all. It seems to dry quicker but once you start washing off its fine. I do tend to grout less than i normally would before washing down though.

  • grumpygrouter

    Do you find the same with Microflex Dave? I always seem to have difficulty getting a nice finish with it. Maybe I am washing off too quickly?

    Micro flex is abit different russ.but you get used to it……:grin:

  • Marcus those tutorials are absolutely marvellous M8 :hurray:

    Superbly thought through, and a ton of useful information (almost an overload for my grey matter)

    An exceptional refresher course in the "ART" of tile its products, uses, and standards.

    Even an old horse as myself found it a joy to read and incorperate into my working day.

    I thank-you for dedicating the time and energy. :thumbsup:

    You have certainly earnt a…………..:8::8::8:

    Cheers Mick.

  • so basically, leave a little longer, then apply more elbow grease. murmph, i was hoping that there might be some magical tile cleaner to put in the washboy, or some sort of special new sponge on the market. LOL
    thanks for your input guys:thumbsup:

  • Cement, Gypsum, Anhydrite, Ettringite Crystals, and PVA; A Discourse

    Introduction

    There have been many debates on these subjects, and my intention is to, in a reasonably easily understood manner, explain the "why" of it all. I'm not an expert on this, but I have read up on it enough to form an opinion, and I wish to pass on my findings.

    This post is based on a pair I did very recently, in a thread pertaining to these matters.

    A Brief Summary

    If you do not want to read the whole post, here follows a summary of what I'm going to explain.

    • PVA is not suitable in any tiling related application.
    • Cementious materials and anydrite (or gypsum) materials are not compatible, and must be completely separated by, for example, a primer.

    There. Now onto the main part of this discourse.

    PVA and Cementious Materials

    I hadn't even heard of using PVA for anything tiling related before I came on here. Thus, I read up on it, and here follows my findings:

    PVA stands for polyvinyl acetate, and it is a rubbery synthetic polymer. It is commonly emulsified in water and used as glue. Many know it simply as "wood glue", or "carpenter's glue".

    Cementious materials, such as many tile adhesives and grouts, or other materials which contain cement, such as concrete, are alkaline. Simplified, that means they have a high pH.

    Alkali slowly attacks polyvinyl acetate, forming acetic acid, which has a low pH. Cement doesn't dry per se; it cures through hydration, which means it binds the water you mix it with chemically. This causes the pH of the substance to rise dramatically. Introducing an acid negates that process to some extent, preventing the cement or conrete from binding all the water it needs to harden properly.

    It is hydrolysis which gives cement and concrete products strength, and holds them together. Without this process, it would merely be the powder you started with.

    The acetic acid which is formed when cement and PVA comes into contact, either through mixing them, or "priming" with PVA, will continually free the water bound in the cement, and that will weaken the bond and/or integrity of the material. The effect is accelerated if the material is subjected to moisture, which is more or less always the case.

    PVA isn't water resistant. It becomes slightly live when exposed to moisture, and this in combination with the exposure to alkali, accelerates the forming of acetic acid. PVA which is marketed as "water resistant" or "exterior grade", has additives which makes them water resistant, but they're not alkali-resistant.

    Anhydrite, gypsum, and cement

    Anhydrite products are mainly composed of calcium sulfate, and gypsum products are mainly composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate. When anhydrite is exposed to water, it forms gypsum. In other words, it hydrates. Essentially, it cures, but not to the same extent as cement.

    Gypsum always has a proportion on anhydrite crystals left in it.

    Cement has a proportion of calcium aluminate. Calcium aluminate reacts with calcium sulfate, which is the main component of anhydrite products, and which is present in gypsum. The reaction forms hexacalcium aluminate trisulfate hydration; in other words, ettringite crystals. These expand, and force away anything which is fixed onto where they form.

    As I've previously explained, cement cures, which means it binds water through hydrolysis. That means water is always present in cement. If anhydrite is put into direct contact with cement, there will be a reaction. The reaction won't be as severe with gypsum, as it's already hydrated most of the anhydrite (the dihydrate part), but there is still some present.

    Thus, if you want to tile onto such products, you will need to separate them entirely. This is best done with a products which seals, and which is also water resistant, such as acryllic dispersions.
    Even if you use water resistant "PVA", the separation will deteriorate with time, due to the chemical reaction between the cement, which is alkaline, and the polyvinyl acetate. If the bond of the cement onto the substrate hasn't already been compromised because of that, the formation of ettringite crystals will very likely cause complete debonding.

    Rapidly curing cements may have some gypsum added when manufactured. It accelerates the curing, but does not affect the integrity of the product, because it's present in such small quantites, and during the early stages of curing.

    Final Notes

    PVA is not suitable as a primer, sealer, impregnator, or admix. The uses of PVA may be many, but they do not include anything tiling related. Use proper manufacturer approved primers and additives instead. Using PVA will likely cause liability issues when problems arise, and that is bound to cost alot more than buying proper materials to begin with.

    If you want to tile onto anhydrite or gypsum, make very sure to properly separate the substrate from the adhesive. There will likely be tears otherwise.

    Finally, I would like to quote Cliff Anger:

    Calcium sulphate and portland cement are not compatable – whilst a failure is not guaranteed, it is a real possibility. Over time, ettringite crystals may appear, and as they expand, they will cause the tiles to lift and de-bond. It may well take several months to determine how bad the reaction might be.

  • Know this: mixing by hand is pretty useless unless it's a really small batch. Those who say you can't get a proper result using an electrical mixer, probably used a regular high-RPM drill and some cheap paddle, instead of a proper low-RPM mortar mixer and a proper grout paddle.

    In fact, you're more likely to get a bad result when you mix by hand, than you are when using a proper mixer. The grout is supposed to be completely homogenous, and there can't be any lumps. By using a proper grout paddle and a low-RPM mortar mixer, you'll avoid mixing air into it.

    Im trying to find something for this application rather than using my lovely new dewalt, any suggestions of where i can get a decent mixer and paddle for my grout?

    Cheers

  • I use a rebranded Collomix mixer. One of the nicest mixers I've used was a Festool. Flex mixers are good too. Rubi has a mixer called Rubimix 10, and I've heard it's good.
    Then there's Refina.

    Berg mixers are so-so.

    Collomix has a brand specific guide on their paddles, which is kind of useful.

  • sWe

    I use a rebranded Collomix mixer. One of the nicest mixers I've used was a Festool. Flex mixers are good too. Rubi has a mixer called Rubimix 10, and I've heard it's good.
    Then there's Refina.

    Berg mixers are so-so.

    Collomix has a brand specific guide on their paddles, which is kind of useful.

    Sorry i thought them mixers were for powder adhesives, i thought there would be like a smaller type version for grout, more like a hand held mixer as its gotta be no more than 300-400rpm.

  • These ARE low rpm tools. They are "big" because the viscosity of the stuff we mix put enormous strains on them; they need to be powerful and produce alot of torque to be able to cope and not burn out, and that tends to equal large motors.

    Most of them have variable speed controls in the region of 250-600rpm. My Collomix does around 180rpm on the lowest setting.

  • sWe

    … Berg mixers are so-so…

    I have one and is very adequate for me and it is very robust. Had it for over 3 years and still performs great.

    The round framed paddle is much easier to clean than the flat one; just a quick spin on a measuring BAL bucket (for reaching to the top of the paddle) and a light brushing is all that is needed. :thumbsup:

  • Thanks very much for all this info and tips :smilewinkgrin: now if only i had read the last page (where you have compiled all guides in to a PDF) before i spent ages copy and pasting all your guides in to word so i could sit and read them at my lesiure :dizzy2:

    cheers davie

  • sWe – Just read the guide to anhydrites etc – great info as far as it goes but I have seen lots and lots of failures using Acrylic primers. Too many in fact to be comfortable with them generally. Agreed many of these issues are to do with application or in cases lack of it. As it is more robust to, shall we say, less thorough installers, I prefer to recommend either water dispersible epoxy primer or even better remove the cement from the equation altogether and use gypsum based addy. :thumbsup: Price of this is not too disimilar to that of flexible cement based addy so I am told.

  • use gypsum based addy. :thumbsup: Price of this is not too disimilar to that of flexible cement based addy so I am told.

    But not as easy to get hold of country wide ,off the tile retailers shelf…:mad2:

  • Dave

    But not as easy to get hold of country wide ,off the tile retailers shelf…:mad2:

    Agreed – I think it will improve though. Three years ago there were a grand total of Zero available in the UK – now there are three that I know of and I know at least 2 other manufacturers who are in development. At last they seem to have realised that we anhydrite whores are not going away and are getting on board. I am nurturing one or 2 relationhips with people willing to stock it – 2 deffinites at present, Norfolk and North Wales, and several other possibles – I know it doesn't sound much but I am thinking along the lines of "from little Acorns" and all that.

  • Myeah, anhydrite is a bit troublesome to tile onto using cementious adhesives. I find that a major problem is that it's got to be completely dry before anything goes onto it, and that's a bit hard to achieve most of the time, especially on new builds. Fortunatly for me and other tilers in Sweden, anhydrite isn't that common over here; afaik, it's mostly only used in office buildings where they use it to level the substrate prior to installing laminate floors and such. Only ever seen anhydrite in a few other places than office buildings.

    The few times I've encountered anhydrite I've either ripped it out or gone completely nuts with primer.

    Epoxy primer is probably a good idea in some places, but I'd be wary using in places where there is/could be rising damp, as epoxy tends to seal it in.

    I've never seen gypsum based adhesives in retail over here. I suspect that if it's at all availible, it has to be ordered in bulk quantities, and then it's only viable for larger corporations that can afford to have their cash locked in stockpiles of materials.

    Oyeah, btw, I tried to correct a small error in the post on anhydrite some time ago, but it didn't stick, it seems… I mixed up hydrolysis and hydration in my head when I wrote it. The correct one is hydration. Hydrolysis I the exact opposite of hydration iirc. In case anyone cares that is, or if there's someone here who could use some fancy words to throw in the face of builders who're about to do stupid things :thumbsup:

    Btw, regarding gypsum based adhesives… How's that when installing, say, travertine? Gypsum adhesives harden through dehydration, don't they? That could cause staining on certain stone. Just a thought.

  • sWe

    Myeah, anhydrite is a bit troublesome to tile onto using cementious adhesives. I find that a major problem is that it's got to be completely dry before anything goes onto it, and that's a bit hard to achieve most of the time, especially on new builds. Fortunatly for me and other tilers in Sweden, anhydrite isn't that common over here; afaik, it's mostly only used in office buildings where they use it to level the substrate prior to installing laminate floors and such. Only ever seen anhydrite in a few other places than office buildings.

    The few times I've encountered anhydrite I've either ripped it out or gone completely nuts with primer.

    Epoxy primer is probably a good idea in some places, but I'd be wary using in places where there is/could be rising damp, as epoxy tends to seal it in.

    I've never seen gypsum based adhesives in retail over here. I suspect that if it's at all availible, it has to be ordered in bulk quantities, and then it's only viable for larger corporations that can afford to have their cash locked in stockpiles of materials.

    Oyeah, btw, I tried to correct a small error in the post on anhydrite some time ago, but it didn't stick, it seems… I mixed up hydrolysis and hydration in my head when I wrote it. The correct one is hydration. Hydrolysis I the exact opposite of hydration iirc. In case anyone cares that is, or if there's someone here who could use some fancy words to throw in the face of builders who're about to do stupid things :thumbsup:

    Btw, regarding gypsum based adhesives… How's that when installing, say, travertine? Gypsum adhesives harden through dehydration, don't they? That could cause staining on certain stone. Just a thought.

    The Epoxy Primers will not trap moisture but what they will do is act as an effective barrier to sulphates which is what causes the ettrignite reaction as they migrate to the surface as the residual moisture moves around in the system. If you could get it truly dry the reaction would not occur because it need water to progress. Of course getting it truly dry is impossible because it will, as with all screeds, equillibrate with atmosphere. I am surprised you don't see more of it in Sweden because I was under the impression that a lot of gypsum products e.g. wall board, wall blocks etc were used over there. Maybe not though. If you were to use an Epoxy DPM this is a different thing to a primer and it would indeed supress the moisture. The idea is that it controls the rate of moisture escaping in order that it can escape through the flooring at a rate at which it can cope. Some anhydrite Manufacturers now have completed tests which allow DPMs to be used in certain curcumstances. Heated screeds are still a touchy subject but this will no doubt come as well in time.

    Hydration, hydrolysis – what's an "olysis" between freinds. I knew what you meant.

    As for it staining Trav. Not certain but will find out. Don't beleive it would be a problem because it is white. The moisture level will be very low compared to the amount of gypsum present so the massive majority of the water will be used in the crystallisation reaction. I will hoever do some research amonst my European colleagues who use gypsum based far far more and come back to you.

  • Thanks for these sWe's. I am a newbie to the forum and as a plumber a newbie to the tiling world, but your explanations of thinks are really excellent and a good read. As somebody said at the start these could do with being on a pdf :thumbsup:

  • sWe

    You're welcome 🙂 Can't remember all the guides I've written, so I'll add more as I find them.

    If a floor needs to be waterproof, a waterproof membrane combined with cement based adhesive and grout is normally the best option, as that will allow the floor to dry out.

    If you for some reason need to use epoxy grout, and you need the floor to be waterproof, then epoxy adhesive is the way to go. Epoxies are more or less waterproof per definition, though some aren't entirely vapor proof in the long run.


  • sWe's guides

    well I think I got my head around that…!
    However what I have just read has brought me to a full stop because there was me just about to plough straight into PVA-ing my walls and floor then tile the lot.
    Many thanks for your work it has prevented me causing major mess up and cost
    cheers

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